How to teach grammar? 钟彩顺 江西师范大学外国语学院 Tel: 13699529035 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org QQ: 641911103
I. Let’s elaborate on the question! • 1. What is grammar? • 2. What is the function of grammar in language learning? Should grammar be taught? • 3. How can grammar be acquired/learned? • 4. How to teach grammar?
1. What is grammar? • Grammar is the structure of a language or rules which determines how words fit together in meaningful constructions. • A property of brain • a specific description, study or analysis of rules for language use • Grammar of language vs. language of grammar
2. What is the function of grammar in language learning? • Read the following two reflective comments and discuss your opinions
(四) 教学模式与方法根据小学生学习的特点，小学英语教学要创建活动课为主的教学模式，教学重点是培养学生用语言进行交流的能力。小学英语教学不讲解语法概念。要充分利用教学资源，采用听、做、说、唱、玩、演的方式，鼓励学生积极参与、大胆表达，侧重提高明小学生对语言的感受和初步用英语进行听、说、唱、演的能力。小学五、六年级的英语教学，在进一步加强学生听说能力的同时，发展初步的读写能力，为进一步学习打好基础。 《小学英语课程标准》
A language is learned through practice. It is merely perfected through grammar.
3. How can grammar be acquired or learned? • Implicit or explicit • Inductive or deductive
4. How to teach grammar? Syllabus • Selection: what to be included? (usefulness) • Grading: what order are the selected items to be dealt with (frequency, complexity, learnability, teachability) • Approach: how to incorporate it into teaching and learning activities?
Successful grammar instruction involves matching instruction to expected outcomes and then assessing whether the instruction was effective. (Williams 2005)
II. The pendulum swing The historical trajectory of theories on language teaching and learning • The grammar-based approaches • The communicative approaches • The integrative approaches
Grammar-based approaches • Language teaching was equated with grammar teaching and grammar was used as content as well as organizing principles for developing curriculum and language teaching materials (Celce-Murcia, 2001a).
Grammar Translation Method • Based on categories of Greek and Latin grammar, the target language was segmented into various parts of speech (e.g., nouns, verbs, adverbs, pronouns, articles, participles, conjunctions, and prepositions), which were taught deductively through an explicit explanation of rules, with memorization and translations of texts from the L2 to the L1. With a focus on written language, other purposes of this method included exploring the literature of the target language, preparing learners to develop an understanding of the first language, and training learners’ academic capacities.
Audio-Lingual Method • The focus of this method was still on learning grammatical structures, and not on the development of real-life communication skills. Theoretically, this method was greatly influenced by behaviorist psychology that viewed learning as a process of habit formation and conditioning; thus, it considered memorization of structural patterns essential for L2 learning. It was believed that such memorization formed and reinforced language habits. The Audio-Lingual Method was also influenced by the American school of descriptive and structural linguistics that shifted the focus from studying grammar in terms of parts of speech to a description of its structural and phonological components. • As such, lessons in Audio-Lingual teaching consisted mainly of grammatical structures sequenced in a linear manner, usually beginning with an easy structure and ending with more complex forms, with little attention to meaning or context. However, rules were taught inductively through examples and repetition of sentence-level patterns. The emphasis was mainly on developing abilities in oral skills rather than written skills. Instructional units typically began with a conversational dialogue, followed by some pattern drills.
the Reading Approach • the Oral and Situational Method • the Silent Way • Total Physical Response
Presentation-Practice-Production (PPP) Models • a structured three-stage sequence: • a presentation stage • In the presentation stage, the new grammar rule or structure is introduced, usually through a text, a dialogue, or a story that includes the structure. The students listen to the text or read it out loud. The main purpose of this stage is to help students become familiar with the new grammatical structure and keep it in their short-term memory (Ur, 1988). • a practice stage • In this stage, students are given various kinds of written and spoken exercises to repeat, manipulate, or reproduce the new forms. The practice stage usually begins with controlled practices that focus learners’ attention on specific structures and then moves to less controlled practices with more open-ended activities. The aim of the practice stage is to help students gain control of the knowledge introduced in the presentation stage, to take it in, and to move it from their short-term memory to their long-term memory (Ur, 1988). • and a production stage • In the production stage, learners are encouraged to use the rules they have learned in the presentation and practice stages more freely and in more communicative activities. The aim of this last stage is to fully master the new form by enabling learners to internalize the rules and use them automatically and spontaneously.
Presentation • Present continuous • Can any body tell me what Jim is doing? • What is Mary doing? • Practice • Repetition in chorus or individually • Production • Describe an ongoing activity
criticism • While there is substantial evidence that grammar instruction results in learning as measured by discrete-point language tests (e.g., the grammar test in the TOEFL), there is much less evidence to show that it leads to the kind of learning that enables learners to perform the targeted form in free oral production (e.g., in a communicative task). • Where syntax is concerned, research has demonstrated that learners rarely, if ever, move from zero to targetlike mastery of new items in one step. Both naturalistic and classroom learners pass through fixed developmental sequences in word order, negation, questions, relative clauses, and so on—sequences which have to include often quite lengthy stages of nontargetlike use of forms as well as use of nontargetlike forms. • Besides practice, language acquisition processes appear to be governed by many psychological constraints (Pienemann, 1998).
Communicative approaches • the aim of language learning as acquiring communicative ability, that is, the ability to use and interpret meaning in real-life communication (Widdowson, 1978), not simply learning formal grammatical rules and structures
Integrative approach • This approach tries to strike a balance between form and meaning in language teaching.
Empirical and theoretical foundations First, the hypothesis that language can be learned without some degree of consciousness has been found to be theoretically problematic (e.g., Schmidt, 1993, 1995, 2001; Sharwood Smith, 1993). Second, there is ample empirical evidence that teaching approaches that focus primarily on meaning with no focus on grammar are inadequate (Harley & Swain, 1984; Lapkin, Hart, & Swain, 1991; Swain, 1985). Third, recent SLA research has demonstrated that instructed language learning has major effects on both the rate and the ultimate level of L2 acquisition. In particular, research has shown that form-focused instruction is especially effective when it is incorporated into a meaningful communicative context.
Focus on form (Long 1991) Long distinguished a focus on form from a focus on forms (FonFs) and a focus on meaning. FonFs is the traditional approach. It represents an analytic syllabus, and is based on the assumption that language consists of a series of grammatical forms that can be acquired sequentially and additively. Focus on meaning is synthetic and is based on the assumption that learners are able to analyze language inductively and arrive at its underlying grammar. Thus, it emphasizes pure meaning-based activities with no attention to form. FonF, conversely, is as a kind of instruction that draws the learner’s attention to linguistic forms in the context of meaningful communication.
Doughty and Williams (1998), for example, suggested that FonF can occur both reactively, by responding to errors, and proactively by addressing possible target language problems before they occur, and that both are reasonable and effective depending on the classroom context. • R. Ellis (2001b) took a broad perspective on FonF, dividing FonF into planned and incidental. He argued that in both types attention to form occurs while learners’ primary focus is on meaning. However, planned FonF differs from incidental FonF in that the former involves drawing learners’ attention to pre-selected forms while the latter involves no pre-selection of forms.
Larsen-Freeman (2001) proposed a communicative model of grammar teaching that included three dimensions: form/structure, meaning/semantics, and use/pragmatics. The form/structure dimension refers to the development of knowledge about the formal structure of a language including its syntactic, morphological, and phonological structures. The meaning dimension refers to knowledge about meaning of a language form, and the pragmatic dimension refers to knowledge about when, where and how to use that form.
However, there are still many questions about how to teach grammar effectively, and in particular, how to integrate most effectively a focus on grammatical forms and a focus on meaningful communication in L2 classrooms. Richards (2002) has referred to this question as “the central dilemma,” in language teaching.
Here the key questions from the perspective of teachers are: (1) how can grammar be brought back to L2 classrooms without returning to the traditional models of grammar teaching that have often been found to be ineffective? (2) how can a focus on grammar be combined with a focus on communication? (3) what are the different ways of integrating grammar instruction and communicative interaction? and (4) more importantly, how can the opportunity for focus on grammar be maximized without sacrificing opportunities for a focus on meaning and communication?
III. Principles and methods for grammar teaching • Principles • Efficiency (including economy, ease and efficacy) • Appropriacy
Teaching Methods • Processing instruction • textual enhancement • discourse-based grammar teaching • Interactional feedback • grammar-focused tasks • collaborative output tasks.
Processing instruction • Input processing is defined as strategies that learners use to link grammatical forms to their meanings or functions. • Input can be defined as the language “that learners hear or see to which they attend for its propositional content (message)” • Universal Grammar (triggering, parameter setting) • Information processing (from controlled to automatic) • Skill-acquisition theories (from declarative to procedural)
(1) How does the learner process the input to which he or she is exposed?; • (2) What is it that makes some input more difficult to process than other input?; • and (3) What are the processes that impede or delay the acquisition of input?
four main principles: • 1 Learners process input for meaning before they process it for form. • 2 For learners to process form that is not meaningful, they must be able to process informational or communicative content at no or little cost to attention. • 3 Learners possess a default strategy that assigns the role of agent (or subject) to the first noun (phrase) they encounter in a sentence/utterance. This is called the first noun strategy. • 4 Learners first process elements in sentence/utterance initial position.
The key components of processing instruction as a pedagogical intervention are as follows: • 1 Learners are provided with information about the target linguistic form or structure. • 2 They are informed of the input processing strategies that may negatively affect their processing of the target structure. • 3 They carry out input-based activities that help them understand and process the form during comprehension.
An example: Teaching plural -s • “He has two cars.” • giving students some explicit information about how plural forms are structured in English • informing the learners of why they tend to ignore the plural-s when they normally read or listen to input that contains that form • implementing some input-based activities that are specifically designed to help learners to process the plural-s correctly for meaning
Guidelines • Keep Meaning in Focus • Present One Item at a Time • Use Oral and Written Input • Move from Individual Sentences to Connected Discourse • Have Learners Do Something with the Input • Keep Learners’ Processing Strategies in Mind
Teaching past tense • Activity 1 • Instruction: Listen to the following sentences and decide whether they describe an action that was done before or is usually done.
Teaching participial adjectives • Instruction: Read the following sentences and decide whether you agree with the statement.
textual enhancement • The aim of this approach is to raise learners’ attention to linguistic forms by rendering input perceptually more salient. Textual enhancement aims to achieve this by highlighting certain aspects of input by means of various typographic devices, such as bolding, underlining, and italicizing in written input, or acoustic devices such as added stress or repetition in oral input. The assumption is that such visual or phonological modifications of input make grammatical forms more noticeable and subsequently learnable. • noticing • three attentional processes: alertness, orientation, and detection
Types of Input Enhancement • explicitness : the degree of directness in how attention is drawn to form • Elaboration: the duration or intensity with which enhancement procedures take place
positive and negative enhancement • Positive strategies make a correct form salient • Negative input enhancement highlights “given forms as incorrect, thus signaling to the learner that they have violated the target norms”
Different Forms of Textual Enhancement • Textual Enhancement in Written Text: underlining, boldfacing, italicizing, capitalizing, color coding or a combination of these • 1 Select a particular grammar point that you think your students need to attend to. • 2 Highlight that feature in the text using one of the textual enhancement techniques or their combination. • 3 Make sure that you do not highlight many different forms as it may distract learners’ attention from meaning. • 4 Use strategies to keep learners’ attention on meaning. • 5 Do not provide any additional metalinguistic explanation.
Textual Enhancement in Oral Texts • added stress, intonation, repetitions of the targeted form, even through gestures, body movement, facial expressions.
Input Flood • Learners are provided with numerous examples of a certain target form in the input (either oral or written)
discourse-based grammar teaching • grammar is regarded as a complex process of making context-based choices, not only of syntax or vocabulary, but also considering social and psychological factors determined by the grammatical links between discourse and meaning (Halliday, 1978).
Teaching the four language skills through discourse: • 1 Reading extended texts rather than sentences and answering comprehension questions. • 2 Listening to extended speech and often requiring the learner to “shadow” the speaker’s voice, complete a cloze test afterwards, reconstruct the text (see Swain & Lapkin, 1998) and answer comprehension questions. • 3 Writing at the essay level, producing an introduction, a body and a conclusion (see for example, Fotos & Hinkel, 2007). • 4 Speaking activities such as presenting speeches, either prepared or impromptu, or making discourse-length responses to questions.